In The Know: Women Often Ignored In The Conversation On Criminal Justice Reform

In The KnowIn The Know is your daily briefing on Oklahoma policy-related news. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. Click here to subscribe to In The Know and see past editions.

Today In The News

Interim study to probe restraint policies for special needs students: An Oklahoma lawmaker is continuing his fight against policies that allow educators to use restraints and seclusion to punish students with special needs.
State Rep. Josh Cockroft, R-Wanette, has introduced bills that would ban the practice under specific circumstances, but those measures never made it out of committee. This year, he requested an interim study on current restraint and seclusion policies and how to best train teachers and other staffers on those policies. [Journal Record]

Women Are Often Ignored In The Conversation On Criminal Justice Reform: For all the popularity of Orange Is The New Black, women in prisons are often not given enough attention, according to experts on the topic. “Criminal justice reform” may have been a buzzword recently, but problems specific to female prisoners — including mental health, drug problems, and motherhood — just haven’t been talked about enough. We have to do a better job specifically thinking about women in jails and their needs. [Elite Daily]

Gov. Mary Fallin outlines the costs of Oklahoma’s high female incarceration rate: The female prison population is growing faster than any other group, but the issue does not get the attention it deserves, said Holly Harris, Justice Action Network executive director. Fallin acknowledged her state has work to do. “Oklahoma has the dubious honor of having the highest incarceration rate of women in the nation,” she said. “That is not something I am proud of.” [Tulsa World] Incarceration is not the most effective way to reduce crime [OK Policy]

Rural hospitals face uncertainty with health care proposals: Millions of Americans got health insurance through the expansion of Medicaid programs in 31 states under the Affordable Care Act. Though efforts in Congress to overhaul the law collapsed, many remain nervous as some Republicans, including President Donald Trump, say they haven’t given up on repealing the law. People who work at hundreds of rural hospitals are also watching closely. Those hospitals have struggling budgets that were propped up by the massive influx of poor people who gained taxpayer-funded health insurance. [Associated Press] Affordable Care Act repeal plans threaten chaos for Oklahomans’ health care [OK Policy]

State weighing cuts to mental health care: Local officials worry short-term cuts will have greater long-term costs: The latest in the ongoing round of cuts to state services affects some of the state’s most vulnerable people, and is leaving some professionals worried the move will cost the state far more than it will save. At issue is a proposed cut in Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (ODMHSAS) that virtually would eliminate case management services for low-income mental health patients. [Enid News] Oklahoma’s costly lack of foresight in not funding mental health care [OK Policy]

Immigrant students burdened with baggage, pressures: Working with English second language (ESL) students at Putnam City High as their graduation coach has been a roller coaster of emotions and contradictions. No two days have been the same, and each day has brought challenges. As their coach, my general job description entails talking with parents, staff and administrators to reduce the dropout rate among the ESL population. Learning the English language, adapting to American culture and adjusting to a new school are three pieces of the American pie ESL students must navigate simultaneously upon arrival in this country. All of that that is on top of the extra baggage they bring with them. [Yolanda Rojas/NonDoc]

Democratic state Representatives seek to engage public on budget plan: Citing recent court filings to strike down approximately $317 million of the current state budget, House Democrats are calling on all members of the Oklahoma House, in the words of a press release circulated Wednesday (June 19), “to get to work crafting a contingency plan. Caucus members contend that the budget plan currently in effect will leave vulnerable citizens, school children, public safety, and infrastructure at risk of mid-year cuts as a result of potential legal rulings.” [CapitolBeatOK] State budget sitting on shaky constitutional foundations [OK Policy]

Free sexual-assault response training offered in Muskogee: Free training for law enforcement, first responders and others to develop a multi-disciplinary team to better respond to reports of sexual assault will be held in August in Muskogee. The Sexual Assault Response and Resource Teams training teaches a “victim-centered” and “offender-focused” curriculum to help individuals learn to “respond effectively to the most under reported crime in our nation, state and communities,” according to a news release from the Oklahoma Regional Community Policing Institute. [Tulsa World]

In dispute between Republican leaders over DHS funding, here are the facts: It’s been an eventful week for the Oklahoma Legislature, especially considering they are not even in session. The week began with House Speaker Charles McCall and Majority Leader Mike Sanders blasting the Oklahoma Department of Human Services for making cuts to services for seniors, foster families, and in-home support for people with developmental disabilities. Three days later, three Republican legislators, including House Appropriations and Budget Chair Leslie Osborn, spoke out in defense of the agency, laying out why the cuts could not have been avoided given insufficient funding to cope with rising needs. The next day, Speaker McCall removed Osborn from her position as Appropriations and Budget committee chair. [OK Policy]

Obvious retaliation is obviously not retaliatory: Have you ever noticed that you see very few news stories about the thousands of airplanes that make it safely to their destination on time every day? However, let one plane have an issue with safety, seating or – in a worst case scenario – crash, and watch the news coverage pick up. That is similar to the Oklahoma legislature in July. If revenue proposals aren’t being challenged in court, members aren’t facing criminal charges or leaders aren’t participating in retaliatory dysfunction, you don’t hear much about them. Unfortunately, you hear a lot about Oklahoma legislators in July for those and many more reasons. [Kent Bush/Shawnee News-Star]

OG&E, SunPower to build solar plant in Garfield County: Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. and SunPower Corp. are teaming up on a 10-megawatt solar power plant in southeastern Garfield County that will begin construction next month. The project, north of Covington, will be OG&E’s second solar farm, after a 2.5-megawatt plant was built in 2015 on the grounds of its Mustang power plant in far western Oklahoma City. [NewsOK]

Quote of the Day

“We know that every dollar in the budget means something to somebody – whether it’s access to medical care, access to food, access to education – these dollars are meaningful. The people should have the opportunity, without the interference of political games; to tell lawmakers what they believe is a priority for the state.”

– Rep. Monroe Nichols (D-Tulsa) on the importance of public comment should the legislature have to enter a special session this summer to fix the budget (Source)

Number of the Day


Number of home health and personal care aides for every 100 adults with disabilities in Oklahoma, 2013-2015

Source: AARP

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

The conservative case for saving Medicaid: With soaring healthcare costs, we absolutely need to rein in spending where it is wasteful. But why are we trying to pass healthcare legislation that would gut the most fiscally effective parts of Medicaid? Some believe that the government should have absolutely no part in providing healthcare to anyone. As an ideological position I see where those people are coming from. But even if Medicaid were to go away today, people with significant disabilities would not. Without Medicaid, more Americans will go into crisis more often and cycle in and out of those costly state-managed institutions — and our criminal justice system. The fallout from their unmet needs would put additional, significant strains on our schools, police, courts, and hospital emergency departments. Those unavoidable costs would still fall on taxpayers and balloon to astronomical levels over time. [The Hill]

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Courtney Cullison worked for OK Policy from 2017 to 2020 as a policy analyst focused on issues of economic opportunity and financial security. Before coming to OK Policy, Courtney worked in higher education, holding faculty positions at the University of Texas at Tyler and at Connors State College in eastern Oklahoma. A native Oklahoman, she received an Honors B.A. in Political Science from Oklahoma State University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. with emphasis in congressional politics and public policy from the University of Oklahoma. While at OU, Courtney was a fellow at the Carl Albert Congressional Research and Studies Center. As a professor she taught classes in American politics, public policy, and research methods and conducted original research with a focus on the relationship between representatives and the constituents they serve.

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